Top Restaurants to Try in 2016 in Columbus, OhioAs we kick off 2016, a new year means it's time to start trying new things, and that includes restaurants. So many people get too comfortable with their favorite restaurants, often never branching out to try new things. Maybe it's because they simply don't know where to start or what the best places are in town. Well those wanting to try a new place to eat in Columbus, Ohio now have no need to worry, because this list is here to help you. All of these restaurants that follow made their way onto this list because of their high-quality food, service, and atmosphere. To those not fully familiar with Columbus and all it has to offer, these restaurants are not your typical household names. Still, they are much-loved by the dedicated locals, receiving overwhelming amounts of positive reviews and even awards. With all types of cuisine such as pizza, Japanese hibachi, German, Middle Eastern, and seafood, the restaurants in this list have something to offer for all sorts of tastes. These five Columbus-area restaurants are ones you should definitely try in 2016, and keep coming back to in the years that follow.
Out of Columbus's many pizza places, Harvest Pizzeria is consistently ranked as one of the best. In fact, the restaurant was named as the best place to get gourmet pizza in the city in the Best of Columbus 2015 Reader's Poll. Harvest Pizzeria has two locations in Columbus with one in the German Village neighborhood and another in the north-central neighborhood of Clintonville. The restaurant is known for partnering with local dairy, produce, and meat farms, and uses local ingredients in all of its recipes. With the slogan "local tastes better," the pizzas at Harvest Pizzeria are top-notch, Italian style pizzas with crispy crusts. Customers are able to customize their own pizzas at the restaurant, with the ability to choose from a variety of sauces, cheeses, and toppings. In addition, customers can also order one of the restaurant's many specialty pizzas, including the Spicy Yuma, which has a chipotle-spiked tomato sauce, a blend of Gouda, Havarti, and mozzarella cheeses, and is topped with roasted red peppers, chorizo, jalapenos, and corn. Both the German Village and Clintonville locations serve a variety of "small plate" appetizers, salads, and desserts, as well as cocktails, wine, and beer. The Clintonville location also serves burgers and sandwiches, such as the pesto turkey sandwich, which is made with shaved turkey, almond pesto, roasted red peppers, romaine, and provolone cheese. Menu prices range from $5 for a small house chop salad to $16 for one of the Piemonte specialty pizzas. Both locations are open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
House of Japan
Called "Columbus' finest Japanese steakhouse," the House of Japan has two locations, one in the neighborhood of Polaris and another in the Columbus suburb of Dublin. The House of Japan has been a Columbus-area favorite for years, and the Dublin location won the Consumer's Choice Award in "Fine Japanese Dining" from 1999-2003 and again from 2005-2013. The restaurant is known for providing its customers with a unique dining experience, since the chefs actually cook their meals at a hibachi grill in the middle of each table. While cooking, the chefs will also perform tricks to keep their customers entertained while they wait for their meals. Customers can enjoy all sorts of dishes, including steak, seafood, and chicken. Sushi lovers will be happy to see the restaurant's extensive sushi menu, which features California, dragon, and veggie rolls. For pairs who want a meal fit for royalty, they should order the imperial feast, which includes mushroom soup, salad, a shrimp appetizer, vegetables, rice, and a main course of lobster, filet mignon, and chicken, with orange sorbet for dessert. Prices range from $1.69 for a side of white rice to $59.99 for an imperial feast for two. Since the restaurant is so popular, customers should look into reserving a table in advance. Both locations are open for lunch Monday-Friday from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. The restaurants serve dinner Monday-Thursday from 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday from 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Saturday from 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m., and Sunday from 4:30 p.m.-9 p.m.
Although Schmidt's has been a well-known name in the German Village neighborhood in Columbus since 1886, the restaurant wasn't established until 1967. After moving to Ohio from Germany, Schmidt's founder J. Fred Schmidt established a meat packing house in German Village, which his grandson, George F. Schmidt, built the restaurant close to 81 years later. Using the recipes from his grandfather's meat packing days, George was quickly able to turn Schmidt's into the major success it continues to be today. The restaurant is recognized both state and nationwide for its authentic German cuisine, and was even featured in a 2008 episode of the popular television show, "Man vs. Food." It goes without saying that Schmidt's is known for its sausages, with "The Original" Bahama Mama sausage being the most popular, so popular in fact that Columbus Monthly selected it as one of the 10 best entrees in the city. But the restaurant also has a variety of other meals, including alpine chicken spatzel, German meatloaf, and this author's personal favorite, the Bavarian ham and cheese sandwich. For those who can't decide on just thing, the restaurant also has a German autobahn buffet. Besides their Bahama Mama sausage, the restaurant is also known for their half-pound cream puffs. With flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, and Buckeye (peanut butter), these rich, heavy cream puffs are a challenge to eat in one sitting, but that doesn't stop people from trying! In addition, diners can enjoy live entertainment Wednesday-Saturday nights, when local German bands come in to play. Prices at Schmidt's range from $3 for a dish of fat-free ice cream to $15.75 for a wiener schnitzel und gravy meal. The restaurant is open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Nazareth Restaurant and Deli
After serving the Columbus community for over 20 years, Nazareth Restaurant and Deli continues to make their highest priority "to deliver to you the best food, with the best service!" The restaurant is known for serving some of the best Middle Eastern food in Columbus, and many say that its gyros are the best in town. In addition to their gyros, the restaurant's menu features a variety of sandwiches and entrees, including a grilled bologna sandwich, spicy chicken on rice, and stuffed grape leaves. Any of the restaurant's entrees are also able to be turned into a dinner combo, which includes a choice of salad and hummus and/or baba ghannoug. The restaurant sports many vegetarian options on its menu as well, such as a falafel sandwich, a vegetarian Mediterranean dinner, and vegetarian grape leaves. Customers can also order one of the restaurant's many Middle Eastern or American appetizers, soups, salads, and desserts. The restaurant warns that "management not responsible for food addictions," and according to how the locals talk about the place, it seems that many people in Columbus are already addicted to its delicious food. The prices at Nazareth are also tough to beat, ranging from $2 for a half order hummus appetizer to $14 for the vegetarian Mediterranean dinner. Nazareth is open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Mitchell's Ocean Club
While Mitchell's Ocean Club may be one of the most expensive restaurants in Columbus, it is worth treating yourself to whenever possible. Located in the popular Easton Town Center in northeast Columbus, the restaurant is close to downtown and the Port Columbus International Airport. The interior of the restaurant is stunning, and since it is an up-scale place, stylish attire is suggested. Besides the lovely atmosphere, the quality of the food at Mitchell's is extraordinary. Customers can enjoy one of the restaurant's "small plates" appetizers such as lobster corn fritters in the lounge while sipping on one of the restaurant's many cocktails. Once it's time for dinner, customers should try one of the restaurant's seafood or steak dinners, including twin lobster tails, Dutch harbor king crab legs, and filet mignon. After dinner, take the time to savor one of Mitchell's desserts, such as blueberry lemon cheesecake, crème brulée, and chocolate peanut butter pie. With such a stylish setting and so many mouthwatering dishes on the menu, even Mitchell's itself admits that it is the perfect place to "indulge." Prices at Mitchell's range from $5 for a "small plate" of Parmesan truffle French fries to $59 for the Dutch harbor king crab legs. The restaurant is open Monday-Thursday from 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Friday from 5 p.m.-11 p.m., Saturday from 4 p.m.-11 p.m., and Sunday from 4 p.m.-9 p.m.
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Miranda Roehler grew up in Northwest Ohio. She studied Creative Writing and History at The University of Findlay and has been published in multiple international journals.